The others thought I was the most appropriate person to write an entry about getting published by Adlard Coles, not only because I am the first point of contact for unsolicited manuscripts, but because I’m also an Adlard Coles author. In fact, next January sees the publication of my third book with Adlard Coles – Final Voyage: The world’s worst maritime disasters.
Unlike many publishers Adlard Coles will happily consider unsolicited book proposals. However, before you rush to the post office to send us the log of your fortnight’s cruise off the Gironde, here are some things to consider:
Has your book got a strong hook? Can you sum it up in a single sentence? This isn’t about dumbing down, it’s about grabbing people’s attention. Publishers receive dozens (if not hundreds!) of book ideas every week, but they only publish a handful of new books each month. Readers have an even harder time – they have millions of books to choose from! But grab their attention with one sentence and there’s every chance they’ll want to read the next 5,000 too.
Use your single sentence to sum up what is unique about your book and why a reader will want to pick it up, what your book offers (whether it’s practical advice or an absorbing tale) that no others do. For example, one of our most successful books, Left for Dead by Nick Ward, could be summed up as: The true story of a teenage competitor in the disastrous 1979 Fastnet Race who was knocked unconscious on a sinking yacht and awoke to found his crewmates had fled in the liferaft without him.
How big is the potential readership for your book? Adlard Coles is the largest nautical publisher in the world, but nautical publishing is still a pretty specialist niche. We don’t expect to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of every book, but we need to convince our sales and marketing teams that there are enough people out there to make the investment of producing the book worthwhile.
Publishing is a business like any other and unfortunately sometimes we have to reject books that are wonderfully written simply because we don’t think we could sell enough copies to cover the costs of publication.
We reject a lot of sailing narratives that fit into two categories: memoirs of careers in the merchant navy half a century ago, and what we call ‘my holiday on the water’-type books. The market for the former is very small (too small for us) and the market for the latter is even smaller. Please appreciate that what might have been a fun, exciting, fascinating trip for you doesn’t necessarily make for a fun, exciting or fascinating book. Remember: what’s your hook?
So, having read this, do you think you’ve got a book for us? We’re particularly keen on receiving proposals for practical guides about any and all aspects of boating, as well as strong narratives (non-fiction only please). If you think we might be interested in your book please send us 2–3 chapters, along with a summary of the whole book and some information about yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year Justin Ruthven-Tyers did just this, and this year we published his book Phoenix from the Ashes. Could your book be next?